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Aiken County Historical Museum

Aiken County Historical Museum is located on the south end of Newberry Street in Aiken, South Carolina. Its purpose is to collect, preserve and display the historical material relating to Aiken County. The Aiken County Historical Museum has functioned under the direction of the Aiken County Historical Commission since 1992. The Aiken County Historical Museum was originally housed in the old County jail behind the courthouse. When the courthouse was renovated, the demand for additional building and parking space required that the building be demolished. This led to the shifting of the museum to a majestic winter home known as “Banksia.” The winter colony mansion was built in 1931 by a Northern horseman, Richard Howe of New York. It is named for the Banksia rose and is really two houses joined together on a 3.5 acre lot. The wooden section of the mansion dates back to 1860. During the construction of the Savannah River Site in the 1950s, the building was used as a boarding house. Later, it served as a college campus and as a library before it became the site for the museum. Featured in the Aiken County Historical Museum are the diverse history of other county towns such as North Augusta, Beech Island, Graniteville, Salley, Wagener, and New Ellenton. On display are items and clothing that reflect the county's history from the earliest settlers to the present. A nature room exhibits the flora and fauna of the area as well as its geology. Adjacent to the museum is the shell of a temporary observatory, built by a German scientist for viewing the Transit of Venus, in the late 1800s. Nearby is the Ergle log cabin - one of the oldest existing homes in Aiken County, built in 1808 - furnished with period pieces, and the China Springs one-room schoolhouse, which was built in 1890. A museum store has items related to South Carolina and the Aiken area. Special features include an archeology exhibit and a 1950s drug store.